There's nothing like a week in the outdoors to help you relax and appreciate the world around you. This Fourth of July I enjoyed some vacation time at Unity Lake. It was a six-day camping trip that started Wednesday, July 2. (That's why this column is a little late.)

The first step in camping is the packing. You need at least two days to get all the camping gear, food and sports equipment together for the trip.

We had a full load, six people, including my little sister and brother, who went along.

The trip there was long, hot and nauseating because the road had sharp curves all the way up, then down Dooley Mountain. However, the scenery was spectacular. The elevation of Unity Reservoir is around 4,325 feet.

When we arrived, we fumbled around in the darkness to set up camp. Bill, and his friends Bob and Mary, were staying with us and helped us unload. We were not the only campers there, so we had to be very quiet while we unpacked all of our stuff. In the morning when we woke up, we were pleasantly surprised to be amongst a beautiful lake surrounded by mountains surfaced with Juniper trees.

After a hearty breakfast of eggs and bacon we ventured out to the water to cast out our reels and try our luck at lake fishing. We had no luck. We caught zero fish for the first three days. However, on the fourth day my sister caught the first fish, and it was a biggin'. Bob was the one who taught Hailey how to fish, yet she caught a fish three times as big as his. That always seems to happen in fishing.

I went swimming once, but only once. The algae and the wind mixed with the cold water and seaweed created a regretful experience. I went out on the floating toy, but the wind pulled me back to shore every time.

On the Fourth of July, there were plenty of fireworks and it was really cool because other campers from across the lake also were setting off fireworks so it was an awesome sight. Unfortunately, we didn't have any fireworks of our own but a generous camper let us use some of his.

On the fourth day of camp we went to Sumpter where they had a large Fourth of July celebration. We wandered around the huge flea market. We also went to the old dredge and learned about its history.

When we were done with the dredge tour, Bob had his metal detector and gold pans for us to try. "If I would have brought the right equipment, we could have compacted gold particles together, then we would all be rich," he said.

I did not catch any fish, I got a little chilled swimming, but all in all I had a great experience camping at Unity Lake.

Jake Hartley will be a freshman at Pendleton High School in the fall.

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